Friday, January 29, 2010

my long history

I discovered some very old designs from my Satellite days in SBC youth. If you're wondering what Satellite is, it is a magazine that my friend Jeremy Marak and I started in 2004 September October for our church youth department. That was the time when I first sighted Hillsong United More Than Life album. I was completely spell bound by their cover art and their design.

I had NO IDEA I had just stumbled upon a piece that would literally change my life and my road that leads down to where I am now. That crucial piece of art on a music album from Sydney, Australia.

Well, how it impacted me is hard to over-emphasize. I couldn't stop looking at the design and all the people that were featured in the cover. How the colour blue painted in the background held my gaze and how the people (probably photoshopped) stood out in a giant massive structure, completely made up of photos of people and random stuffs like signboards, flag of Australia, kangaroo and so on.

I tell you, for me then, it was life changing.

I wanted to do something like that. I wanted to do it right away. Right then.

I need to remind myself that I had never ever heard the term 'graphic design'. It was told to me maybe a year later or maybe even two years later that there is such a job for artists called 'graphic design' where you design packaging for toothpaste and food and so on. My uncle said, its a great fun job.

Packaging for toothpaste?

I didn't think so.

That's how I never took graphic design as my major interest. My first image of it was foiled. I always see bubbly blue water on the packaging for Close-Up toothpaste when you mention the word 'graphic design'. Til now I have to force myself to think otherwise.

Oh anyway, I immediately wanted to do what the guys in Hillsong United were doing. Ok, we had a youth branch of church, yes. But we didn't have any music album so that I could design the cover. So Jeremy and I came up with a youth magazine. And it would be called 'Satellite', because when we were deciding to do this, Jeremy was listening to the song 'Satellite' by POD. I didn't object, though the song isn't my most liked song (it's only ok).

I didn't know photoshop at that time. I had never even thought of designing a magazine that time. The only program I knew on computer was Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Paint.

These three I put into use to design the first edition of Satellite. September October 2005.

You can say it was the most indie magazine I ever did (or maybe will ever do again). I did it completely for the love of it. I had no idea about the rules of magazine. I only observed how the paging runs on a magazine and some basic structure from magazines I look at from time to time.

I remember I went to Aunty Shilula Imchen at their office at Lydia House (a girl's hostel by the way, the hot spot for well behaved pretty Christian girls I have to say, now that I think about it...) and used their computer printer. The printer at my home was just a dot matrix printer, that could only just print word and type readably. Then after getting the original printed manuscript, I went to Police Bazaar and met uncle Leesen, who is a Chinese immigrant who owns a bar and does carbon printing for side business. He looked at the margin and printing area of the whole manuscript. I kept my fingers crossed. I didn't bother myself about details and technicalities. What if it went beyond printing area? WHat if the contrast wasn't good enough for carbon copying?

It went ok. The quality was just ok. But I was not very worried about it. Our first magazine was out. And I was off to design the new one again. Madam Machun (my teacher, much later, for Video Production in college) said she liked the graphics.

I warmed up. No one gave the heck about graphics in Shillong then. Readability, clarity, print quality and no controversies in what the youth have written were all that the readers cared for.

But then I think Satellite took off pretty well. It atleast inspired little other responses from other youth departments from other churches. I think some people realised that design can be used on boring newsletters.

And what the heck was Satellite? It was not a magazine. It was not a newsletter. It was not a journal. It was not a promotional. It was just Satellite.

Satellite did popularly in St.Anthony's College, my alma mater. Sometimes I see college kids sitting on the basketball courts tucked with a copy of our magazine. I even once overheard a conversation sparked by an article from Satellite, about the existence of God as proven by the existence of darkness. I also hear of Satellite being pretty popular in St.Edmund's College, where Thiu, my twin (and my younger brother) went to (and go to). And those two are arguably the best colleges in Shillong probably one of the best in North East India.

Sirion Diaries also got to the public through Satellite. Though the stories all smell of Christian influence, I rediscovered some of them and i have to say I enjoyed finding them again.

Clearly those were one of my glory days when it came to creativity. I sometimes would sit all night at our creaking computer doing hard out designing on it, and my father would pop into the sitting room (where the comp was) and ask me sleepily to go to sleep. My parents would always ask me not to worry or not to work too hard on it. Maybe they were thinking my efforts were not being appreciated too much. Or maybe they were thinking I was doing too much and I didn't have to. I knew. I just wanted to do it.

The rest came along. Photoshop. St.Anthony's Mass Media, my friends, graphic design, D&A and eventually what I am now, whether I am good or not. And soon I will be a professional graphic designer. I need to question and remind myself again and again to keep the first love for creativity alive. Maybe I have learnt too much rules already and I need to find something new to jump into again.

A bit about Harry Potter and the ladies from Hogwarts

I just saw Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince last night again. I cannot express how much I enjoy Harry Potter. No wonder all the teenagers and younger fans go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over the stories on the Internet. Not only that I find J.K. Rowling's story and the context of how she wrote the first book of the series inspiring, the setting of the story and whole idea is just brilliantly imaginative.

Anyone who says he/she is imaginative and does not see the wonder in Harry Potter has a serious defect in his/her imagination.

I think characters in the films also have grown up to be fine men and women. Especially Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood (who is still eccentric but cool), of course, Hermoine Granger and Romilda Vane. And I never get over how cool their names are. Like quaint names of flavours from some British chocolate brand. Or herbal soaps. haha

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

cv being the bitch

I REALLY cannot design my CV. I have typed down everything I need it to be there. But designing it? I just can't.

Maybe I am distracted. Or I don't know. From typography to colours to layout. The idea of lined and organised format about my CV just doesn't let me do anything with it.

Come on, if you want to be pretty, just be less demanding, man. Else you will end up like an old hag and no one will pick you up when you stand rallying for attention from all all those heartless monsters with all the jobs in their pockets.


"Right and wrong do not exist in graphic design. There is only effective and non-effective communication."
— Peter Bilak - Illegibility

There is a very beautiful girl in this class room, one of the D&A people who are doing extra work in extra time. And I wonder what course she does. I know its real gay to blog about this.

But yeah, here it is.

The Blindman's Song

Found this beautiful poem online by Ranier Maria Rilke:

The Blindman's Song

I am blind, you outsiders. It is a curse,
a contradiction, a tiresome farce,
and every day I despair.
I put my hand on the arm of my wife
(colorless hand on colorless sleeve)
and she walks me through empty air.

You push and shove and think that you've been
sounding different from stone against stone,
but you are mistaken: I alone
live and suffer and howl.
In me there is an endless outcry
and I can't tell what's crying, whether its my
broken heart or my bowels.

Are the tunes familiar? You don't sing them like this:
how could you understand?
Each morning the sunlight comes into your house,
and you welcome it as a friend.
And you know what it's like to see face-to-face;
and that tempts you to be kind.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Says (John Mayer)

Who says I can’t get stoned?
Turn off the lights and the telephone
Me and my house alone
Who says I can’t get stoned?

Who says I can’t be free?
From all of the things that I used to be
Re-write my history
Who says I can’t be free?

It’s been a long night in New York City
It’s been a long night in Baton Rouge
I don’t remember you looking any better
But then again I don’t remember you

Who says I can’t get stoned?
Call up a girl that I used to know
Fake love for an hour or so
Who says I can’t get stoned?

Who says I can’t take time?
Meet all the girls on the county line
Then wait on fate to send a sign
Who says I can’t take time?

It’s been a long night in New York City
It’s been a long night in Austin too
I don’t remember you looking any better
But then again I don’t remember you

Who says I can’t get stoned?
Plan a trip to Japan alone
Doesn’t matter if I even go
Who says I can’t get stoned?

It’s been a long night in New York City
It’s been a long time since 20 too
I don’t remember you looking any better
But then again I don’t remember you


Nice, i like it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Opening lines for Sirion Diaries:

I don't know what she is...

She comes in through my thoughts..

She drifts in through tunes in the air...
Silent tunes of the mountains.

She appears with the dissolving scent of a rose in bloom.

I catch her reflection.. and shadow
In the street cafe.

I sense her in the smoky presence
Of the monsoon clouds

What is she, I don't know.


Friday, January 22, 2010


Oh, it started raining. The drops sit on the glass window. They distort the view of the world outside. And you almost feel like its not the real world out there. Shapes that move and have no shape. And shapes that change every time another rain drop hits the glass.

Chinese Dedication, Sweet Child O' Mine, China

Today is a bit cloudy. But it is warm. Contrary to ideas that I had when I first woke up and looked out the window on my slanting ceiling, when I thought it would be a severely cold day. (YES! I have a slanting ceiling from which I can hear rain when they fall)

Coffee break at Sixth Floor D&A building made me think about things. Just hanging out with my class mates.

And Tony, my next door neighbour, was speaking about the song 'Sweet Child O' Mine' by Guns 'N' Roses that he is learning on his guitar. He told me that his legs went numb because he sat in one position for too long and didn't move, focusinng on learning the lead pieces for that song.

"Yesterday after I went home," (That would be about 6pm as I recall) "I was learning that song til I slept." (Which would be about 12 at night.)

Which meant that he practised for 6 hours straight. Probably with breaks in between to catch a bite or to go to the toilet. Six hours is a lot of time to pratise guitar on, considering that's what he does every single day.

I told him, "That's one great thing about you Chinese people. You guys practise like mad." Tony and Martin looked a bit unsure about what I was saying, "I mean, you guys practise so much. For example, in Olympics, Chinese athletes practise like hell, right? All day, all night."

"Yeah, yeah." Tony replied, looking pleased.

"No wonder you guys get all the gold medals, man."

Coincidentally, I was also talking to Agus about China too, just before this. Talking about how Google decided to leave from China. Which I understand must have been a big step, considering how important China is to world business and economy. Apparently the Chinese government had been hacking into people's personal Gmail accounts and violating their Human RIghts to Privacy. And for more reasons, that must have been because of China's failure to provide people's right to freedom of expression and privacy, Google decided they won't remain there any longer.

It makes sense, I guess. Because, apparently the government even monitors people's text messages. If that's not over-doing it, I don't know what it is.

I told Agus: "That's why I seriously believe that China cannot become a superpower. America also has secrets and things they hide, but normally it's against other nations and people. Atleast among their people, they have almost close to perfect transparency. China also has secrets and things they hide. But this is against their own people. It's the government against her own people. A country bent against itself cannot stand, no matter how pretty it looks from outside."

It's even in the Bible, and logic, that a kingdom cannot stand if its citizens are fighting and robbing each other behind their backs.

Anyway, my point is, there is a lot to say about China. A country of contradictions, but very unlike India's.

But there is a lot to learn from the dedication and time the people spend on what they do. They don't allow themselves to be distracted. They prioritize on one thing and make it a point to spend all the time in the world to do it.

"It is better to follow a route to its end than to try many roads and end up nowhere."

Just made that up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bitter Virgin Manga Series

I just read a whole series of manga comics called Bitter Virgin on that showcases free manga comics to read online. It had 4 volumes and probably more than a few hundred pages. But it was an enjoyable read.

I guess thats the way with manga comics. They are enjoyable. The art is good too. Average, you can say, but it had everything you wanted in a manga book.

The story is about a girl who grew up being sexually abused by his step father and got impregnated two times (with abortion and adoption, respectively to deal with it). And that too in her Junior High. Then she starts to be afraid of all men.

Then when she changes school she meets this guy who is sensitive guy who was not too overbearing on her.

As all stories go, she falls in love (though spanning over several chapters of love triangles, dramatic emotions and exchange of thoughts from her as well as from the boy's side). The story is told from the boy's angle though. And he happens to find out about her tainted past and makes it his decision to look out for her and protect her if necessarily since she was extra sensitive because of her history.

So yeah, they fall in love. And that sort.

It is pretty fun. Learning experience (as reading any good/fun/decently-enjoyable comics always is, with the exception of many American comics that I really don't like).

PS. I really don't understand fully my prejudice against anything American. Especially American comics. I just detest their line works, their manner of intellect, their stories, their concept of pulp and pop, their version of slickness (and even the look of most artists) and the idea of a bustling comic-con (comicon or whatever).


The dramatic and sensational have become such an industry. Everywhere. Movies. Comics. Novels. Art.

It's sick.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Comic Books

I have been seriously contemplating a graphic novel this year. Today I made a trip to Comics Complusion, a store for comics on Machester Street. An awesome store there. And they have a very wide range of comic collection on their shelves. Apparently they too promote local artists and help them sell their stuff. I have no idea how quick they sell out but it looks ok. Just ok.

The store was dingy. Just what a comic nerd would find enthralling. Surrounding comics and comics. But sad to say, for me, despite the fact that telling stories through the comic format is truly in my heart and it is one (if not THE one) thing I want to do, I found the store very depressing. They were playing some Kiwi rock band, I won't be surprised if the song was from Flying Nun Records, the sort of songs that emerged from the underground punk garage rock era. The kind of era when they made do with little budget and local promotion. That clearly reflected in their locally produced comics too. Independent, rough and not very slick.

That's cool. But I didn't come to New Zealand to delve myself into any local underground art scene. I am not saying I am after slick, because I am not. I like the rough look to art too.

But then I'd like my comics to be disctributed to more places. I mean, who doesn't? I am no depressed post modernistic guy who goes, 'nah, thats ok. I don't care what the heck is happening around the world. I do comics only because I love it and it doesn't matter if no one reads them, just a few patrons will do.' I want it distributed to every possible corner. I want to absorb the momentum of the comic culture and industry. I want to be into it all.

I probably need to start at the local level. But this is not where I want to end up in.

New Zealand has far too less comic scene. They hardly have any publisher too. That's why I want to see Japan.

But anyway before I get too carried away, maybe this is no time to worry for a publisher. For now, get the comic running in good pace. Finish it. Polish it. Make it high quality. Even sell-able (as much as I dislike that word).

Then let's see.

Some Quotations from the readings I did today

"There is no doubt that the great majority of the work called 'modern' is the product of degenerates and perverts." J.S. MacDonald

PS. Haha, I have to say he is quite right in many ways.

"I can sympathise with everything except suffering.. If there were less sympathy in the world, there would be less trouble." Oscar Wilde

PS. Will blog about this. The idea is sympathy brings down the other person.

"Don't ask for things to happen the way you want, be happy with wanting them as they happen." Epictecus


I am excited about my Graduation Exhibition coming up. And finishing my portfolio and developing a mixed media exhibition piece to place there.

More blog about my trip back to India are coming soon. Watch out. I got heaps.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Behind Blue Eyes

"No one knows what its like to be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes,

No one knows what its like to be hated

No one knows what its like to be mistreated
To be defeated
Behind blue eyes"

Hahahaha, yeah right.

What an emo. Probably woke up at the wrong side of his bed. And he is probably hinting to the ladies that he's got blue eyes and he is sad and needs some love. Sad guy.

My Place in Art

I have never really thought about my place in art. I have always lived with the idea that I will always have a place simply because no one does art like me. Because my skills are unique to me, the ideas are unique to me.

Yet, the more I do a formal study of comic movements, and other artists and musicians who are doing crazy stuff (crazy, not necessarily to be translated to literally crazy and outrageous, because most art that i respect are subtle and quiet), the more I realise that to market myself and to make money out of my art, I need to be very different, almost revolutionary. It is the age when every single book and story that is told is trying to be revolutionary.

I have an idea that, what if I strike a path that is less revolutionary, then in the contrast of all the revolutionary stuff happening, it might seem a different taste of air. Something different. But it is a risk, because trying to be not revolutionary can end up in works that are mainstream and boring.

And I have also started to think that mainstream arts and music are terrible.

So what is my place in art?

WHen I read about artists like Hiyao Miyazaki, M.I.A. I am inspired to be like them in my art: outrageous and bizarre. But then I read stuff by the other Japanese artist (whose name I just forgot) and stories by Ruskin Bond, and I realise there is a stronger self in me that wants to strike the less beaten path (I say less beaten, because it is also less dramatic and less sensational) and be more subtle and reserved about my stories and art.

This is how I get confused. But what is sure is that I will never bow to mainstream idea of popular art (popular art not to be confused with pop art!) maybe except to make easy money, because there may come a time when I do art for money that I am not ashamed to confess. It's just what I do. And will be doing. But my heart will never be there. My heart will always be looking for that niche for me. That little corner in art that belongs to me and me alone.

craving hot tea

I am craving hot milk tea steaming and sweet. I can almost taste it in my mouth and the idea that it is very unreachable is torturing me. YAAARGH!

I can imagine the terror of people walking about in the desert with the faint taste of water in their mouth, and yet knowing they can never actually drink any.

It's like that.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

of Priscilla Ahn

Thiu gave me a new artist on my ipod, Priscilla Ahn. Its not my favourite artist but it suits the feeling in my guts today. I woke up late to a gloomy day and walked to lunch and then to college to see Lina and Becks already here. Becks supposed to be working but wasting her time (like we all do) checking up pictures on Google Image search. Lina slaving on the same logo she was working on yesterday.

Somehow a song reminds me of Thiu. Not that he ever sang it or not that it is the kind of song that he would play to. Just the knowledge that he gave the songs to me reminds me of him.

It's 2:30pm and I need to get back to my Olive Oil packaging campaign design.

I want to catch the plane and go somewhere. Somewhere far from anywhere I am familiar of. Somewhere beyond the murky sky here.